13 July 2023
The American startup Bolt Threads announced that it has ceased the search for production of the “alternative material to leather” generated from mycelium (fungi). The group – which in 14 years received US$ 300 million – failed to convince new investors to continue providing money to continue “trying” the industrial and commercial development of the product. Initially the project had the support of companies such as Stella McCartney, Kering and Adidas, who later quietly distanced themselves from the project. Report by CueroAmérica.
Bolt Threads seemed to be hurtling toward the goal of a “fashion revolution,” and instead Mylo hit the wall of economic logic, failing to deliver after so long, leaving it without support. The group, which has raised $300 million in funding since its founding in 2009, has ceased “production of Mylo” without reaching any results after so many years.
In statements to Vogue Business, Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads, did not speak of failure, nor of market rejection. He maintained that the origin of his problems is in the economy, “because high inflation penalizes investments.”
But Widmaier acknowledged that the financing has not stopped in the last 18 months, but that interests have changed. “Those who have money have not invested in alternative materials to animals, but have preferred areas such as artificial intelligence,” argued the “entrepreneur.”
The developers of the product noted that “Mycelium is the branching underground structure of fungi” and that Mylo is created using a “highly efficient growth process that is intentionally designed to be low impact, takes less than two weeks to grow, emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses less water and resources than animal leather.”
What Bolt Threads never specified is to show the physical and chemical tests that demonstrate that the final material is sufficiently resistant, durable and that it does not contain any treatment o aggregate that is not sustainable.
About the project, Stella McCartney said in 2020: “Many people associate leather with luxury, but from the beginning I always wanted to approach things in a different way because killing animals for the sake of fashion is simply unacceptable. Working so closely with Bolt Threads since 2017 has been a career-changing experience and I can’t wait to launch Mylo products in 2021.”
In turn, the president and CEO of Kering, François-Henri Pinault, added that “innovation is key to addressing the sustainability challenge facing luxury. Finding innovative and alternative materials and fabrics can potentially drastically reduce the environmental impact of our industry in the long term.”
But given the passage of time without reaching a minimally satisfactory result, both companies abandoned the project without publicly revealing it.